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Our aims

Showcasing SSW in the local press

We’re currently publicising the work of Sight Support Charity in local media, with the aim of highlighting our services to potential members as well as other interested partes. Here’s a copy of the article we’ve placed. If you’d like to see the article as it appeared, you can take a look at it here.

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The past year has been full of challenges for all of us, regardless of age, location or situation. For Sight Support Worthing this has meant ensuring its members continue to receive the support, advice and social engagement they’ve been used to. Sight Support Worthing – as the name suggests! – offers a range of activities, events, resources and information designed to inspire and support those who are blind or partially sighted, and their families. Membership is free of charge and open to anyone with a visual impairment.

 

The charity is headed up by Sonia Baker, who started in her role as General Manager in March 2020. Sonia’s first year has seen Sight Support Worthing (SSW) needing to introduce new ways to support members and a number of new initiatives have been introduced: “Along with dealing with the restrictions of lockdown and the challenges that brought, our aim has been to develop the Charity for the future so it meets the changing interests of a wider visually impaired community, while keeping our familiar and welcoming culture.”

Like many other organisations, online communication has been key, especially when it comes to sustaining social interactions. SSW now runs popular weekly sessions including an art group and chair yoga. These are set to continue, with face-to-face classes being held in addition to online options. With lockdown restrictions now reducing, plans are being made to reopen the SSW Centre in Rowlands Road, Worthing for in-person support.

 

One of the areas that is key to the Charity’s vision is technology. Plans include providing demos, tech support and how-to classes for using tech at all levels. “Accessible tech plays an important part in helping enrich people’s lives and open up opportunities for them. However some devices can seem daunting to learn or are priced out of people’s reach. So we’re really trying to help people see what’s out there, as well as giving opportunities to try out equipment to see if it’s right for them. Then once people invest in technology, we’re here to offer them assistance.” says Sonia, who is leading the project.

 

The year ahead is an exciting one for Sight Support Worthing and its members. As well as the expansion of the charity’s technology for visual impairment service, they are launching a volunteer/member buddy scheme, which will match people by shared interests. Naturally, as a charity, volunteers are crucial and muchvalued members of the Sight Support team; new volunteers are always welcome and there are varied roles available.

 

Another important aim for the charity is to introduce activities for its younger members. As Sonia says: “One of the things we’ve been looking at is the gap between activities and services aimed at the very young, and those that appeal to more senior people. There is definitely a shortage of options for those aged between 30-50. These people may be busy with families or jobs and aren’t necessarily looking to engage with a charity on a daily or weekly basis. Equally they might be missing out on some great services simply because they aren’t being offered anything relevant. So we’ll be looking at new ways to reach that missing demographic.”

 

In their quest to attract new members and provide appealing events, activities and  services, the team is looking to collaborate with other organisations, groups or businesses. Sonia and her team are keen to pool resources and share ideas with others who have similar aspirations: “Now more than ever, organisations need to stop working in silos and work together. So many services remain a postcode lottery which doesn’t meet the needs of the community. Logistically we cannot provide everything to everyone, but if we collaborate we can make sure the things we can’t provide, someone else can and vice versa.”


The Charity would love to hear from anybody who would like to to find out more (either for themselves or a family member), those who are interested in volunteering, as well as anyone working within an organisation, group or business who is keen to partner or collaborate on projects and initiatives.

 

“We’re always open to working with anyone who has ideas for inspiring, supporting or promoting accessibility to visually impaired people, particularly those who are themselves are visually impaired, so do get in touch.”

Categories
Interview

Talk with a trustee: meet Dawn O’Donnell

Name: Dawn O’Donnell
 
Lives: I have lived in Worthing for 4.5 years moving from south east London in 2016. 
 
How long have you been involved with SSW?
When I moved here I knew no one and my husband was commuting back to London each day. He was leaving at 6 in the morning and not getting home until 5 in the evening; that’s a long day with no one to talk to especially if talking is your specialist subject! 
 
I decided no one would knock on my door just for a chat so I better find some company. I walked down the road, saw the sign at SSW (then The Blind Society) asking if you could make tea and coffee, and applied as a volunteer. I volunteered for about two years then was asked to become a trustee in August 2019. 
 
What’s your role at SSW? What do you especially enjoy about your role?
I started in the Art class which I absolutely loved. Then I started taking members on trips and coffee mornings and helping out at afternoon events, which I did right up until covid stopped play. 
 
If you take part in the activities or groups at SSW which have you particularly enjoyed or have special memories of?
I have many fabulous memories of conversations with members, Christmas parties, days out and, of cours,e directing the legendary (in my mind) SSW pantomime but I think my favourite was in an art class. Fiona, the tutor, asked a member – also called Dawn – if she wanted to make a birthday card with an owl in it. She said “ohh I can’t do that” so I said I would help her. Dawn’s sight was poor and she was also quite fragile but, between us, we made the card and the look on her face when we finished it was magic. Sadly Dawn passed away not that long after but I will always remember her grinning from ear to ear with pride at her achievement. 
 
What do you love about living where you do?
I love the community feel in Worthing and every day during the pandemic I have thanked my lucky stars to be living by the sea. 
 
How do you spend your free time?
I do work part-time for another charity but have been furloughed for the best part of a year. In this time I have been drawing. I belong to the Lockdown Scribblers (started by Jacqui who works for SSW) and have drawn something, mainly with a Disney twist, every day since 1st Jan. I also belong to the Worthing Blue Tits and have swum in the sea about a dozen times so far this year, including Easter Sunday. 
 
Tell us an amazing fact about yourself!
I don’t have many amazing facts about myself but I did get married in Las Vegas and Elvis walked me down the aisle. 
 
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That’s a great fact to end on Dawn and in the words of the great man himself… “Thank you very much!”
 
 
Categories
Interview

Volunteer voice: interview with Victoria Gray

Any organisation is formed, influenced and representative of the people involved, and especially in the case of a people-focused charity like Sight Support Worthing. We’re planning to introduce you to a wide range of the people that make Sight Support Worthing the wonderful community it is. We’ll be chatting with members, staff, trustees and volunteers.

It’s with a volunteer that we kick the series off. Here’s Victoria, who has recently started volunteering for us.

Name: Victoria Gray

Age: 26

Where do you live: Shoreham-by-Sea

Have you always lived in the same place?

I was born in Shoreham-by-Sea and it has always been my home town, however I have also been at a residential school and college. I went away to study at New College Worcester from the age of 11 for 7 years. This is a school for the blind. After this I went to The Royal National College for the Blind for 2 years. I found it hard living away from home as I missed my family and I have always loved Shoreham-by-Sea.

How long have you been volunteering with Sight Support Worthing (SSW)?

I have only  recently started volunteering. I would like to be involved in the things that SSW do as I am totally blind myself so I feel very passionate about meeting other people with sight loss and helping to make things accessible.

What activities (whether now or pre-Covid) have you enjoyed at SSW?

SSW have recently started running Chair Yoga sessions which I have really enjoyed. Yoga is very good for relaxation and I find I get a lot out of it because I struggle a lot with my balance which makes Chair Yoga the easiest form of Yoga for me to do.

Is there an activity or social group you’d like SSW to start?

Book Group where members could come together and discuss what they are reading.

Quizzes

Walking group where we could go for a walk and maybe get a pub lunch after.

Tandem Riding

Which of SSW’s other services or support have you used?

I haven’t used any other services but this is something I would like to do and as a volunteer I would like to help in any way I can.

What do you love about living where you do?

I love the community feel. It’s nice to live somewhere where people look out for each other. I also love living by the sea.

How do you spend your free time?

Socialising with friends

Gaming

Reading

Yoga

Choir

Drama workshops

Tell us an amazing fact about yourself! 

I have recently started helping to run a book group for the RNIB. It is the first ever group that I have helped to run and it feels like a great achievement. I sometimes get a bit anxious so being able to help run a group and bring people together is such a wonderful feeling and I love being able to help people to connect with each other.

Thanks, Victoria; how brilliant it is to have you on-board as a volunteer! Victoria’s input as someone with sight loss will be of great benefit to the team as they develop services and activities for members. Look out for Victoria when the Centre reopens in the coming months.

Are you a volunteer or member of Sight Support Worthing and would like to be featured in our interviews, you can email Emily.

Of course we’re always keen to welcome new members and volunteers. Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more.